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No one who has felt the life-changing pull of Emerson's enormous planetary mind has ever doubted his power or his greatness, though we are often puzzled to know whether he is primarily a poet, an essayist or a philosopher. Richard Geldard is not puzzled at all by this; he has written a book that plainly shows Emerson to be essentially a teacher, the Socrates of Concord, a man with a message that we need to hear today. Previous generations "beheld God and nature face to face," Emerson says, and adds provocatively that we moderns seem able only to see those things through the eyes of the earlier generations. "Why," he asks-and the question is intended to shatter our complacency-"Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?" Emerson's life was devoted to showing how one may still attain an original, that is to say, an authentic, relation to the universe, and Geldard's book aims to focus and distill the famously dispersed Emerson and put his central teachings into the modern reader's hand.